Mark Phillips of Scottsdale is a typical 15-year-old who enjoys playing video games, participating in sports and hanging out with his friends. Yet it’s the Saguaro High School sophomore’s atypical side as a volunteer that has endeared him to family, friends and many of the people whose lives he has touched.
It’s that side that makes Phillips a winner of one of this year’s Frances Young Community Heroes Awards. Phillips will join Roseann Deak, Mark Sikora, Labuela Steiner Mowry and Jack Wolfe to receive the award at a Wednesday breakfast.
Phillips said his penchant for volunteering comes from his parents. They instilled in him values that he has taken quite seriously.
“They wanted me to do whatever I could for the community,” Phillips said. “I’ve been volunteering since I was 6 years old. Later, I liked it and started doing it on my own without my parents. I really enjoy it. It gives me a special feeling to give back to the community.”
Rita Koppinger, human services manager at the Vista del Camino Center where Phillips has volunteered, said the teen’s urge to give is something special.
“He’s an extraordinary young man,” Koppinger said. “He’s an inspiration to everybody he meets. He has a lot of savvy for a young person, a lot of poise and a great sense of humor. He’s pretty amazing.”
Phillips is the founder and leader of the Red Nose Club, a Saguaro group patterned after Dr. Patch Adams’ philosophy of having fun while caring for others. Last school year, Phillips led efforts to collect more than 1,000 boxes of cereal for Vista del Camino Food Bank. He also helped raise $1,600 at a bake sale to send two youths to a hemophilia camp.
Phillips organized a fundraiser that collected $1,000 to help provide shoes for abandoned mentally disabled children in an orphanage in Romania. He spent six weeks of his summer vacation volunteering at the orphanage.
“Once you get started with volunteering, you feel great and want to keep on doing it,” Phillips said. “Everybody smiles at you. Everybody likes you. My friends like the idea of what I do. I’ve even gotten some of them to volunteer along with me.”
Phillips isn’t sure where he wants to go to college or what he’ll major in. He said he’ll likely be content with a job in business or the financial field.
As are his fellow Frances Young awards recipients, Phillips is humbled by and pleased with the honor.
“I’d like to praise everyone who was nominated, not just those of us who won it,” he said. “There are a lot of great heroes in this community. The whole thing is just another amazing experience for me.”
The Tribune profiles the 2006 Frances Young Community Heroes
Today: Mark Phillips
Sunday: Traci Sikora
Monday: Labuela Steiner Mowry
Tuesday: Jack Wolfe